Thursday, June 16, 2011

Films I Would Remake: Asylum

Horror tends to work best in shorter form.  You don't see many western anthologies, or mystery anthologies, but there has always been the horror anthology.  Twilight zone, outer limits, tales from the crypts:  all have shown the strength of weird fiction in the short form.  I think one reason is that the anthology format frees us of the conventions of standard drama.  We can kill the main protagonist with impunity in an anthology because we are just going to start another story with a new protagonist right after.  We can do anything push the envelope to the extremes.  There is no safety.

Gotta love it...

"Asylum" was one of a group of anthology films made after "Tales of the Crypt" (Not to be confused with the HBO series).  The strength of the film is not in its stories but rather the premise.  The frame for this is just delightful.  A psychiatrist drives to a distant and forlorn sanitarium for a job.  Once there he is told that the doctor who hired him had a mental breakdown.  The Doctor now in charge proposes a test.  Will the Doctor go upstairs and interview the patients and then be able to tell which one is the Doctor?  Of course the Doctor takes up the challenge and winds up hearing some very odd stories upstairs.

The thing is the premise is so good we can change the stories to what ever we want.  This updates so easily it makes the head spin.  Not that the original stories, as conceived by Robert Bloch, were bad.  But some are a bit dated.  The best, and the one I'd keep is the story of the tailor who is charged with make a strange suit.  Peter Cushing does a great job in it, and they really sold the strangeness of the suit by playing different colored lights over it.  The other stories I'd replace by modern masters of horror.  Maybe a Thomas Ligotti story for example. 

1 comment:

  1. I remember this film with great fondness. Of course it's childish to mock an old film due to the special effects (and some tremendous overacting)of the time, but when you're drunk and feeling stupid it can be hilarious. But the set-up is sound and you could fit all knds of tales in there. You could get probably get a full tv series out of it.